Fantasy Premier League: Captain Picks for Matchweek 9

Can Middlesbrough slow down Alexis Sanchez and the in-form Gunners?

If you are going to win your leagues on the Premier League's official fantasy website, it's imperative to pick the right captain. That's why we'll be detailing the top captain choices for your teams each and every matchweek.

You'll construct a roster of 15 players with a £100 million salary -- two keepers, five defenders, five midfielders and three forwards -- and choose a starting XI each week.

A key part of the process is selecting your captain and vice captain. Your captain will have his points doubled for the week, and your vice captain's points will double in case your captain doesn't play.

We are striving for at least one goal with our captain choices, but only one of our choices from last week scored, while a second, Alexis Sanchez, had an assist. Unfortunately, Sergio Agüero has been rested lately, featuring as a substitute in his last two Manchester City games.

It's a gamble that he will this weekend, so he misses the cut. The biggest showdown of Gameweek 9 is probably Chelsea versus Manchester United. It will be Mourinho’s first match against his former club, and hopefully he will decide not to have United defend the entire game.

Alexis Sanchez

Alexis maintains his spot as our favorite captain choice. While he only managed an assist last week, Arsenal still looked quite lethal in the final third, which bodes well for Alexis. He had five offside calls last week, so had he timed a few of those runs better, we could’ve been looking at a multi-goal outcome.

Arsenal welcome Middlesbrough to London on Saturday, in what should be a one-sided match. Boro spends only 23% of their games in the opposing third, which is second worst in the league. They’ve also allowed at least one goal in all but one match (Matchweek 3 at West Brom). While they’ve only allowed 11 goals this season, which is relatively average for the league, Boro haven’t played many strong teams yet. Their results playing top teams are not promising, allowing multiple goals in both games (3-1 at Everton and 1-2 vs Tottenham). This shows up in the odds as well, with Arsenal given the best chance to win this week (-400).

Alexis has the worst goalscoring form of our three picks this week, but his matchup is what sets him above the rest. With three goals and two assists in his past four games, as well as being involved in a goal in four of his past five starts, Alexis is by no means in a slump. It’s more that our next two choices are bagging goals week in and week out. Alexis also has very good odds to score (-120), the best of anyone in this match.

He’s only been added 20,000 times this week, which is likely due to his price compared with some of his teammates, who have also been scoring recently, Theo Walcott and Mesut Özil. Alexis is still owned by 23.7% of owners, so he is a popular player, and with this easy matchup ahead, I think he’ll be a common captain for this weekend.

Diego Costa

Costa was our best performing captain last week, scoring a goal and capturing the three-point match bonus. This was only on two shots, along with a key pass. Chelsea didn’t have any midweek soccer, so Diego should be fresh for Sunday’s showdown against Manchester United.

United should prove to be a tougher team than Leicester was last weekend. They force their opposition to take 50% of their shots outside the 18-yard box, which is the best rate in the league. Jose Mourinho is known for playing pragmatically, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see United set up quite defensively in this match. That being said, the past five matches for United haven’t been spectacular. They’ve only managed one win, lost at Watford, and drew at home against Stoke. Those are not results you expect from a team with title aspirations. They’ve also only kept two clean sheets this season, so it’s likely that Chelsea will be able to get on the scoresheet. The oddsmakers believe that a Chelsea win is the most likely outcome (+115), but it’s far from a sure thing.

Diego Costa is probably in the best form of any striker in the Premier League right now, as he’s managed five goals in the past five games and seven goals in the past eight. He’s got the best odds of anyone in this match to score (+137.5), while also being a popular add this week in fantasy with 95,000 owners bringing him into their team. At 33.9% owned, he should be another popular captain choice this week. If Chelsea were facing a bottom-half team this week, he would’ve been my top choice. The way things stand currently, I think the odds of a 0-0 draw or a United clean sheet make me nervous to captain Costa over Alexis.

Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku has quietly been rounding into form as well. He scored the opening goal in their match against Manchester City last weekend, to go along with five aerials duels won. Lukaku has been averaging the third-most shots per game inside the six-yard box, which are obviously high-percentage opportunities. With a matchup against a defensive-minded team like Burnley, it bodes well for his weekend fantasy point total.

As we’ve discussed in prior articles, Burnley plays very defensively. It’s only gotten worse since the Gray suspension. They average the second-lowest possession (40.6%), second-most shots allowed per game (19.3), and the second-largest percentage of time in their own third (31%). They also spend the third-least amount of time in their opponents' third (25%). It makes sense then that Everton is favored to win on the road (-150). In fact, they are the only road favorite this weekend.

Lukaku managed to score six goals in the past five games, which is amazing, even with three coming in one game. Everton average 13.3 shots per game, with Lukaku taking the largest amount per game, at 3.3. Given Burnley’s play style, we should expect Romelu to take at least four or five shots, and with his current conversion ratio, he should score one to two goals. He’s the favorite to score in this match (+110), and the poor odds are probably due to Burnley’s defensive prowess.

He’s been a popular add this week, over 160,000 times. Lukaku is now up to 26.1% owned but not quite up to must-captain territory yet. Burnley have been a much better team at home on the road, having never allowed more than one goal at Turf Moor. This gives me some pause in selecting Lukaku as a captain this week, but if I didn’t have Costa or Alexis on my squad, I’d be perfectly fine taking Lukaku.